Gophers Hoops Passes Big Road Test, Croft & Smith Honored By Big Ten 14 Nov 17

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Jordan Murphy had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and No. 14 Minnesota outlasted Providence 86-74 on Monday night.

Murphy scored 15 points in the second half, leading the Gophers back from a three-point halftime deficit. Nate Mason added 17 points and Amir Coffey finished with 15.

The Gophers tied it up 55-55 in the second half, then used a 23-11 run to take control.

Minnesota had just six assists on 30 made baskets, but they made up for it by dominating on the inside. The Gophers outscored Providence 40-26 in the paint and held a 38-31 rebounding edge.

Kyron Cartwright and Nate Watson led the Friars with 12 points apiece.

The Friars had no answer for Murphy, who caught the ball deep and was able to weave his way to the rim at will in the second half.

Minnesota’s inside play helped mask a difficult shooting night from the outside. The Gophers were 5 of 17 from the 3-point line for the game, but four of those makes came in the second half.

Providence also had 13 turnovers that led to 17 Minnesota points.

The Golden Gophers started fast, quickly taking 12-2 lead. But the Friars stayed close, going 5 for 9 from the 3-point line and getting 16 points from their reserves in the first half.

Minnesota was cold from beyond the arc, going just 1 for 10 from in the opening 20 minutes. Its offense stalled because of it, leading to a stretch of more than five minutes without a field goal.

Providence took advantage and closed the half on an 11-6 run, taking a 39-36 lead into halftime.

The University of Minnesota women’s basketball team won its first road game of the season at Rhode Island, 82-60. Kenisha Bell had a double-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. The Gophers dominated the rebounding game and broke open a big lead in the second half after a close first.

Bell carried the Gophers in the first half with 13 points and six rebounds, and added to her numbers in the second. Most of her points came from drives to the basket and free throws, as she shot 10-of-18 from the line.

The Gophers shot 45.9 percent in the second half after a 32.4-percent first half. Carlie Wagner started to make more shots as the game went on and scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half.

Destiny Pitts pulled down 15 rebounds along with her seven points to lead Minnesota’s 61-33 advantage on the glass. After Pitts and Bell, Palma Kaposi was third with eight boards. Jessie Edwards tallied 10 points, Jasmine Brunson nine and Gadiva Hubbard eight.

Dina Motrechuk scored 13 points for Rhode Island before fouling out, and Abby Streeter also had 13 for the Rams.

Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft and running back Rodney Smith were honored by the Big Ten today. Croft was named the conference’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week and Smith was tabbed Special Teams Player of the Week. 

Croft, who shares the honor with Ohio State’s Mike Weber, led Minnesota to a 54-21 victory against Nebraska last Saturday. In the win, Croft rushed 10 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Croft, who averaged 18.3 yards per carry, set a Minnesota record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a game, breaking Marqueis Gray’s record of 171 set against Miami (Ohio) in 

Smith returned three kicks for 135 yards against Nebraska, and he started the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was his second kickoff return for a touchdown and first since going 94 yards against Rutgers in 2016. Smith became the first Gopher to return the opening kick for a score since Tyrone Carter (86 yards) did so against Arkansas State in 1998.

Smith ended the Nebraska game with 279 all-purpose yards (135 kick return, 134 rushing and 10 receiving), which ties Tellis Redmon (279 yards vs NC State in 2000) for the seventh most in a single game in school history. The 279 all-purpose yards is also a career high for Smith (previous best was 257 vs Rutgers in 2016).